An Intersectional Approach to LGBTQ Children's Literature: A Case Study on Queer Women in Children's Picture Books

2020-05-02T12:08:40Z (GMT) by Mirisen Ozpek
In this study, I use critical discourse analysis to analyze how queer women are represented in 34 English-language children’s picture books distributed in contemporary U.S. markets. I consider how these books include and exclude particular types of queer women characters and incorporate or omit specific queer women experiences. I argue that, in children's picture books, many queer women identities are “othered” through the binary oppositions of (i) lesbianism and motherhood and (ii) lesbianism and being a woman of color. In addition, (invisible) lesbianism in these picture books is still presented as an “issue.” The binary opposition of lesbianism and motherhood is created by making lesbianism invisible in children’s picture books by emphasizing mothering through the prominence of caregiving activities, limiting queer physical intimacy, limiting queer verbal intimacy, utilizing naming practices based on motherhood labels, and directing homophobia disproportionately at queer characters without children. The binary opposition of lesbianism and being a WOC is created by primarily featuring white queer characters. (Invisible) Lesbianism is still presented as an issue by the representation of two-mom families/queer relationships as “incomplete,” “unnatural,” “special,” “just the same as non-queer families and relationships,” and homonormativity. Informed by these results, I offer (i) a toolkit to evaluate the representation of queer women characters in picture books and (ii) a creative response to the queer women representation gaps in children’s literature.